DALLAS — Center Travis Frederick spent the entire 2018 season battling Guillain-Barré Syndrome, and the offensive lineman doesn't want to come back to the Dallas Cowboys for the sake of a comeback. Rather, Frederick seeks to return to an All-Pro level.
Frederick spent time with the media at his third annual Blocking Out Hunger event at Topgolf and expressed his intention to be a force on the 2019 team, not just a roster spot.
"I don’t think there’s any reason to come back if you can’t do it at that level," Frederick said. "To me, it’s important to do everything that I can to help our team. It excites me and invigorates me every day to come into work and see the guys that we have on our team. It’s exciting."
During the 2019 offseason, Frederick has noticed that there have been more trips taken together with teammates as well as get-togethers in the Metroplex. The common, motivating factor for Frederick in all of the events is that none of have them have been forced.
"Nobody is saying, you have to be at this event," said Frederick, "You got to do that. Guys really enjoy being around each other and I think that’s going to suit us well as we get into the hard times of the season."
It can be argued that the cohesion between teammates was the basis for the 2018 Cowboys persevering through a 3-5 start that saw them without Frederick at center, their offensive line coach fired, and a trade for a No. 1 receiver in Amari Cooper that only added a L in the loss column a game into the deal with the Oakland Raiders. Dallas bounced back for a 10-6 finish, a NFC East title, and a wild-card playoff win.
Frederick, who started in every one of his 80 regular season games prior to 2018, had shoulder surgery after recovering from Guillain-Barré Syndrome. According to the former 2013 first-round pick from Wisconsin, the recent injury was from a shoulder ding as early as his rookie season. Because the nature of paralysis with GBS, Frederick could not undergo anesthesia and the use of paralytic to undergo surgery; he had to wait for a full recovery. When Frederick was able to do the surgery, he was able to get his 180-degree labrum tear repaired, an injury that his muscles were able to stabilize to prevent dislocations. It also made his recovery easier.
While Frederick has not heard the official word from team doctors, he presumes that he will be a full go for training camp in Oxard, California, in late July.
Said Frederick: "I haven’t cleared anything by the trainers yet but I assume so. I think that’s where we are in the point of recovery and I think that’s going to be an important step to my return, being able to go through (practice in pads) and there’s going to be rust. You’re going to have to knock the rust off during training camp and get back to doing those. You can do the movements on air as much as you want but it’s not until you’re going against a live person that you feel football."
For now, Frederick rates himself as "a little bit below" his offseason baseline because of the shoulder surgery. However, he has been working with strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik, a master of helping players recover from shoulder injuries, to get back into All-Pro shape.
"I feel like I’ve been successful in that program and he’s been impressed with my results, so that’s good," Frederick said. "But as far as the overall strength of it, I really do feel confident in that strength and I feel like I’m back to a level that’s where I would expect to be after a certain amount of training."
While backup Joe Looney played a commendable 16 games in place of Frederick at center, the offensive line is better with Frederick at the point of attack. If Frederick is able to return to his All-Pro form, then the Cowboys offensive line will have a chance to be the best version of themselves in 2019.
Do you think the Cowboys can regain their stranglehold on having the best offensive line in the NFL with the return of Frederick? Share your thoughts on the o-line with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.